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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 25, 2009 at 6:00 AM

Seattle schools

Cancel the charter movement

Bigger than the current closure crisis, charter schools represent a clear threat to Washington’s education system.

Here’s why I think charter schools in Washington are a bad idea:

— Even more politics in an area where we are already dealing with our fair share of politics surrounding education.

— A resource-intensive, and therefore costly, process for authorizing districts, which are burdened with the responsibility of oversight and enforcement of standards.

— The use of the market system to match the supply of education with demand when demand in some areas will inevitably not keep up with supply and charters will be forced to close.

— The potential to reverse past trends of integration when minority groups and at-risk children are extracted from mainstream schools.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 enabled districts to close or revamp failing schools in a number of ways, including the reopening of charter schools. More districts nationwide are turning to charters to pick up the slack.

Washington’s schools need to understand the reasons they are failing before enacting charter schools as an easy out.

— Jeff Ball, Seattle

More family values, not jails

Lisa Fitzhugh’s piece in the Jan. 19 Seattle Times [“More jails, fewer schools: We’ve got it backward,” guest columnist] is itself backward. It is backward because more money for schools will not appreciably lower the crime rate.

The crime rate will only be lowered when children learn to distinguish right from wrong and this can only be effectively learned at home with family. Responsible parenting must somehow be restored in a culture where people have become oblivious to this root cause of crime.

We need to wake up to the fact that it is not OK to purposely bring children into the world into single-parent families. The odds against these children’s ability to achieve success in life are too great. Around two-thirds of our prison population come from single-parent families. A minority of single parents can instill proper values in a child; most cannot.

— Ed Wittmann, Seattle

Throwing scholars into an abyss of uncertainty

The Seattle Times editorial [“Academy’s demise offers opportunity,” Jan. 12] supporting closure of the African American Academy (AAA) offers a false premise and a false conclusion.

The false premise is that AAA has not lived up to its promise. The fact is, for Seattle schools with African-American students receiving free and reduced lunch (90 of AAA’s population), in eight out of 12 cases, the AAA ranks within the top 15 for having at least 50 percent proficiency on the 2008 Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) reading and math tests.

At AAA, 84 percent of the scholars live in single-parent homes and 23 percent live with relatives or foster parents. The recommendation to remove these vulnerable students at AAA, along with the absence of credible data on closure savings and the failure to provide a transition plan to ensure these students’ academic success, is reason enough for the board to suspend all consideration of school closures. It is reason enough to direct Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson to provide the board with alternative solutions.

The Times editorial speaks of black children needing “to be in an all-black school …” as a sad statement. It would be a much sadder statement if these scholars were snatched from an environment where they have achieved some success and cast into an abyss of uncertain and, most likely, inequitable outcomes.

— Dwayne Evans, Seattle

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